Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Bonding Experience?

The repair of the Jasmine guitar was attempted yesterday afternoon. It was amazing how, as it sat there with no strings on it; I saw several busking opportunities go by the wayside, but, I'm sure that part of that was psychological.
One of which was the arrival of Gabrielle, the 23 year old percussionist/beat boxer, who was toting a doumbek. She said that she had been looking "all over" for me. I assumed that she wanted to jam and/or even busk along one of the sidewalks.
That type of drum is very quiet when the open end is flush against the ground, but when it is tilted to allow air flow, it can be heard a mile away. This is a technicality that will have to be addressed with Gabrielle, should we busk on this Halloween night.
Roll Over, Bob Villa
The attempted repair of the Jasmine involved me slathering the fingertips of my left hand liberally with (skin and eye irritant; avoid contact; rinse off with water) Liquid Nails and then working that limb, in a Harry Houdini style contortive motion, into the sound hole of the Jasmine. I found that I could just barely reach the damaged area with the very tips of my fingers, and I did the best I could to find where the flat top beam had separated from the ribbon of wood which runs around the inside perimeter of the body. My right hand couldn't even get close.
I thought that I should probably separate the two pieces, so that I could get some Liquid Nails between them, before pressing them back together, which I hope that I accomplished. However, working only by feel, I was only guessing at how effective I was being.
Liquid Nails does not set instantly; nor does its tube bear any indication of just how long to let your Jasmine sit and set.
I let it set all night.
This morning, I had my doubts about the thing staying together under the pressure of the strings which I have yet to put on. There is still a bit of "play" and I don't know if it is because the adhesive still needs to dry more (maybe it is like rubber now but will soon become like cement) but I do feel that I need to re-apply some duck tape or a bumper sticker to the outside to keep the wood from moving, in the case that it might take 2 or 3 days for the Liquid Nails to turn from liquid to nails.
Can't Make It Worse
If nothing else, the weight of the glob of adhesive stuck to the sound board will significantly lower the frequency at which it will resonate, giving the Jasmine a more solid sound i.e. more bass.
The duck tape will have to do its job of preventing the top from separating further from the side. It had started to "run" like a crack in a windshield...until such a time that I find myself in the right pawn shop with the right amount of money on me and can get twice the guitar for the same 90 bucks that I paid for the Jasmine. Just a matter of stringing two $75 nights together in a row, and being too tired to spend anything in the interim.
Counting My Blessings (one hand required)
So far, I have a sleeping bag, socks, razors, new strings and a tube of Liquid Nails to show for my trip to Mobile.
With Halloween night on the horizon, I need to find some duck tape somewhere and get on with my life.
Dorise (foreground)
I might give Gabrielle an audition on the funny drum; because I am sure that, being a 23 year old female, she will hold her own in the tip department; just by virtue of that.
Since I Lost My Camera...
Just for the record, Gabrielle is kind of cute in a "boyish" way (and in an "Alabama" way, given her inability to spell her own name). Her short hair plays a strong roll in her overall appearance. I guess she looks like a "tom-boy" -one that you could easily picture terrorizing an entire opposing team of field hockey players.
Kind of like a white Dorise, of Tanya and Dorise from New Orleans fame, she is, now that I think of it.
Lepley Sequel
Oddly enough, she looks quite like a guy named John Lepley who I once knew, and who I always thought looked rather effeminate, himself. This didn't keep me from hanging around with him; but his ripping me off for all my music equipment and then disappearing DID keep me from hanging around with him
Maybe Gabrielle is the cosmos' way of reimbursing me for the Lepley debacle back in 1998, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jasmine Repair 101

There's a beam that runs from the bridge
(at about a 7 o' clock angle) to the
lower left side, where
it has become detached from the
wood there, causing a change in tone
and an annoying buzz -something I have been
meaning to repair for some time now... 
I didn't blog yesterday, because I was on a well planned mission, which went off with hardly a hitch.
I got my morning energy drink, along with a tangerine and some grapes from Save-A-Lot.
I then headed west on Government Street, stopping at the recycling place to look through the bins for crossword puzzles out of old newspapers, National Geographic and Popular Science and issues of The New Yorker and such.
I had no such luck but DID find a couple of Rolling Stone Magazines; one with Steven Tyler on the cover, the other with Lady Gaga on the cover. I grabbed them in exactly that order, and read all about Steven Tyler while waiting on the bus which would take me to the Mobile Guitar Center and nearby the Lowes, where I would buy a tube of Liquid Nails construction adhesive in order to repair the damage to the Jasmine guitar where one of the beams inside has become detached from the ribbon of wood which runs along the inside perimeter of the thing, causing a buzzing sound which has become more annoying to me as I have delved into recording and equalizing the guitar.
It seems that I am going to have to cut the tube of adhesive open and then glob it on the fingers of one of my hands and then, barely squeezing my arm through the sound hole, paste it all around the affected pieces of wood which I can just barely reach with my fingertips; and then press and hold the thing in place, hoping the electrical tape that is over the damaged wood will function as a mold for the adhesive.
I figure that I don't have much to lose through the process as I can't imagine the wood top vibrating MORE with a glob of adhesive attached to it, even if it fails to fuse the wood together.
While in Guitar Center, I played a Fender acoustic with a $164 price tag on it which sounded so good that it would make this all a mute point as soon as I strike gold somewhere, either at the State Fair today or, there, combined with Halloween in New Orleans.
Sounding good is a top priority for a busker, because sounding mediocre can only be worked around with things like trained monkeys to take peoples tips; or the engaging of people in conversation, in hope of making them like you; as much, if not more than actually playing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

65 Dollar Night

Jam On Franklins Tower/Sea Breeze 
Worth checking out, as it is an instrumental of a forgotten song that was once good to me
As I was saying Friday night, before a cop on a two wheeled thing came by and told me to unplug my laptop and that using the cities electricity in the park is a $125 fine, and that he was trying to "keep me out of jail," which I think is a phrase the cops use just so they can invoke the word "jail" and strike fear into people.
I then began to type "to be continued" and was just able to hit the Publish button before he pulled the power cord out himself, thinking that I was defying him and disrespecting him by continuing to type anything at all or hit any button at all.
I told him what I was doing and then bull****ed that " my audience surely saw you approaching through my web cam and would wonder what happened if they were so suddenly disconnected." I guess I said that so I could invoke the word "web-cam" and strike fear into him. (Youtube: Cop caught on video harassing homeless man in a park and unplugging his laptop...).
But, of coarse if that law is indeed on the books then he might wiggle out of it...
People Walking Dogs
Now I sit in the same park on Sunday in the early afternoon, plugged in and blogging away. I am hearing the strains of Lilly The Banjo Player, who is in the same park about 100 feet from me. There is a big dog related even happening in the other park, called Woofstock with a couple hundred people with a couple hundred dogs on a couple hundred leashes and booths set up everywhere.
Not to burst Lillys bubble if she has one, but, I have found in 6 years of busking that people walking pets are some of the worst tippers.
This is probably because most of them are locals, out walking their dogs and are so close to their home that they didn't bother to bring any money. And my second theory is that their drive to be generous and to support someone or thing has been diverted to their pet and they have satisfied their need to "nurture" already by getting little Poopie a sweater and a new collar and are satisfied with that. Much like a family that has a baby and then circles their wagons around it and stops donating to ambiguous charities to help other peoples children has way around the world...just a theory from someone who DID take one semester of Psychology at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts.
The 65 Bucks
You're Imagining Things, Daniel...
After I decided to stay in Mobile, rather than go to Jacksonville, I was almost immediately "rewarded" it seemed by a 20 dollar tip; then another one (the one contested by Terry, the 55 year old black man, who insisted that it had been for both of us -even though the man handed the bill to me rather than put it in my case, which was between Terry and I; an important detail, I think).
Then, I made a few more singles before packing up and leaving the acoustically superior spot and Terry, who was still sitting there, mumbling. I gave him 2 dollars.
After buying a beer, I went to a place by the Saenger Theater where Bonnie Raitt was inside playing. I listened to a couple songs through a crack in the old brick wall, (which is my beer drinking spot partly for that reason) then I sat in front and played, making a few more singles and most notably a 10 dollar bill from a young lady who had stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and asked me "What have you got?"  to which my response was to play "Your Song," by Elton John, which produced another 5 dollar bill from her as well as one from another person, bringing the total up to around 65 bucks, on the night that I decided to stay in Mobile.
If I was the type of person that imagines things, I would think that Mobile wants me to stay here, as if the place has a collective subconscious. There are certainly enough people that walk around handing out "tracks" for me to read and to pray upon. They seem to prey upon me.
Saturday night, I came out and asked one of them "Can you tell just by looking at me that I need to be saved?"
"No, not at all, we're ALL sinners," they said. The hat, the ponytail, the cigarette in your mouth and the can of beer in your hand weren't dead give-aways at all...
A 2 Dollar Night
Then, cold winds blew in Saturday morning. The temperatures dropped to 53 degrees and there were people out, but they were mostly wearing flimsy Halloween costumes that offer no thermal protection at all (especially for those "masquerading" as swimsuit models and such...) and they scurried from the warmth of one bar to the warmth of the next, not pausing at all to hear any little ditties.
Soon, I decided to take the 2 dollars and go wrap up in my fleece blanket and sleeping bag; and so I walked through the deserted streets to my spot and did just that.
I was happy to have gotten all of my laundry done earlier that day; which ate my 65 dollars (along with a few beers and a pack of smokes) down to 46 dollars.
The cynic would say that Mobile wasn't trying to keep you here Friday night, they were giving you money to get the hell out of town with....

Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm still in Mobile, having blown off the train ride to Jacksonville. Bonnie Raitte is the big attraction at the Saenger Theater, which is good for me. I already sat and played at the acoustically superior spot and got one 20 dollar tip when I was playing "Dancing In The Moonlight," and then a "friend" of mine came and sat next to me, very drunk. He is a black man and when a black man came and gave me my second 20 dollar tip of the early night, this guy, let's call him Terry, as that is his name, began to insist that the man never would have thrown me that tip if it weren't for the fact that he (Terry) was sitting there next to me. The premise is that the black man tipped me 20 bucks because he saw that I had cast aside my prejudices and embraced my fellow black man, and he was giving me 2-. to be cont

Chickening Out?

It is almost noon Friday.
I am ready to go take my clothes off of the bushes where they have been drying all morning, change into some of them and put the rest in my pack.
Then I need to walk down to the rail yard, with less than 5 bucks on me, and try to ask a conductor which train is headed towards Jacksonville. Doing this in broad daylight might attract unwanted attention.
Then there is the matter of keeping track of distances by using the sun as a guide as well as estimating the speed of the train and factoring in stops, so that I don't get off outside of Tallahassee, thinking that I am outside of Jacksonville.
A State Fair In Pensacola
Then there is the matter of finding out if there is a city bus to take me from Baldwin, Florida (outside Jacksonville) into town, where the party will already be in full swing on the eve of the big game, and how late into the night the bus runs.
There is also the matter of the amount of time that it will take the train to get to Jacksonville. The distance is similar to that of New Orleans, but, who knows how ling it may sit in some yard in Panama City or Pensacola or some other Florida city that begins with "P."
I have packed enough food for a day; but I could potentially miss the Friday night festivities due to train delays.
There IS State Fair going on in Pensacola, should I be kicked off the train there, though, as a sort of consolation prize.
Then, there is the matter of my piddly warrants out of neighboring St. John's County which could potentially have me sitting another 45, 60, 90, 120 (how high can his Honor go??) days in jail.
I'm sure that in the fervor of the big game, the cops will be too busy to bother with one busker, but, given by propensity for lingering in places past my welcome, that presents the further problem of...
How easy is it to hop a train OUT of Jacksonville and back this way. that occasion may present the biggest danger of landing in jail. The game will be over; things will be back to "normal" (it is normal for Duval County cops to arrest as many people as they can get away with) and my pockets could be full of money that the County would be more than happy to take from me at the jail for "administrative surcharges" ($20 each time you are arrested; with your "account" debited for each time you were arrested in the past and didn't have the $20 on you -let's just estimate that I "owe" them about $220, or about the exact amount that I hope to have on me after the dust settles from the weekend...).
Then, there is the fact that it will still be the weekend here in Mobile, and there are Halloween related events planned (there are crews setting up for something large looking at the Saenger Theater as I type this) and a decent weekend in Mobile, where at least I know that busking is tolerated -who knows what kind of new laws are on the books in Jacksonville -can be almost as good as a disastrous outing on the east coast.
So, at this point, given all of the above, I am seriously considering staying in Mobile and going after the sure thing rather than risking any one of ten things going wrong with a train hop to Jacksonville on such short notice; I would have to have reasonable expectations of making so much money that I would be able to take a Greyhound out of there with a new guitar in my hand in order to roll the dice with any confidence.
I just see myself in Baldwin, Florida in a hailstorm in the middle of the night, huddled underneath a flimsy overhang, waiting for the storm to end so I can embark on a ten mile walk into the city, hoping to get there at least in time for the kick-off of the game...every step of the way, thinking about why I am carrying 2 laptops and enough condiments to make my own salad dressing in my backpack.
Of course, all this could change if I find a friendly enough conductor who informs me that a certain train is going straight into Jacksonville non-stop and will go right to the downtown rail yard, from which the stadium is visible and will be there  by sundown tonight.
But, barring that stroke of luck, it looks like I will be chickening out this time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Preparations Underway

A Lady Tips Sea Breeze
Last night, I played at the acoustically superior spot and made 6 dollars.
This morning, I woke up and made plans on how to go about getting to Jacksonville within the next 24 hours.
It involves washing clothes in the park and then taking them (wet) by Save-A-Lot where I will pack some food into my pack and then will continue on until I get to the laundromat, where I will dry the clothes, then continue on until I get to the tracks where the incoming trains stop for some reason.
I will ask the engineer if he is going to Jacksonville, and if he says "yes" then I will find a car to hop on; and will hopefully be in Jacksonville within 8 hours.
This is putting a lot of effort into getting to the Florida/Georgia game and I will consider anything less than 100 bucks made over the weekend to be a dismal failure; and anything less than 200 bucks to be just alright, given the fact that I will see the ol' city and maybe run into a friend or two.
This morning, I decided to still do my morning warm up and a lady came and gave me a dollar when I had just started to play Sea Breeze, as heard on todays audio clip...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gold Dust Woman

Gold Dust Woman was the song that I pulled out of my ass this morning.
I made 2 dollars last night. I think the last time I made 2 dollars was my first night in New Orleans, before I realized that I shouldn't listen to people who told me where I should play.
This is postponing the trip to Jacksonville for one more day.
It is now evening, and I go to the same spot to try to do better.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cathedral Park Water Fountain

Avoiding "Real" Issue Of Trip
I just did my morning warm up and I nailed the "Sea Breeze" song for the first time "mistake" free (unless choosing to play the song was a mistake in and of itself..) but I DIDN'T record it or the funky jam in E that I just played for a guy who gave me two cigarettes. The water fountain splashing is just too much of a nuisance on a recording. "Natural ambiance", my ass...
I had been listening to Dream Theater on Youtube when he walked up and asked me what I played. I kind of stammered "...Umm, since it's an acoustic, I mostly play acoustic soft rock..."
He kind of gave me a "Well, instead of telling me what you play, why don't you play something..." look.
I then added that I had just been listening to Dream Theater and currently was wondering if I could play at all after hearing John Puccelli, or whatever his name is...add him to the list of guitar gods, though.
This seemed to help me to play by putting me in the right frame of mind. I think that I will discount my ability and underestimate myself from now on whenever someone asks me to play something.
I did "Sea Breeze," then "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and then the funky jam in E. And got the two cigarettes. Although one of them mostly burned up in my mouth during the Beatles song...
I'm paying more attention to the notes that I play and not just improvising based upon sounding stuff out.
The only way that I can see Joe Satriani, (and them guys) for example, being able to re-create his recorded solos note for note is through his knowing exactly what notes he is hitting AND over exactly what chords they are over; which gives the solo a frame of reference which uses logic and makes sense. He definitely isn't the kind of guitarist who says things like "...I usually come up here around the 12th fret and do something like this.." He says "This is exactly what I play in this spot."
One of the drawbacks of being totally right-brained and letting the subconscious play almost automatically through the body is that one of the components of the other side of the brain, namely the memory, suffers.
Loading Up
I have a few hours to busk today before I have to go and try to hop a train with whatever money I have in my pocket and throw caution to the wind.
I am having trouble deciding if I should leave anything in Mobile, such as clothing and stuff like hot sauce, steak sauce, honey, mustard, salt and pepper and olive oil.
Carrying two laptops will be a heavy enough load; I'll have to tie the sleeping bag to the outside of my backpack to free up room inside for whatever I will bring with me.
Leaving something in Mobile will mean re-arranging my itinerary so as to make a swing back through here; whereupon I might become saddled with one Howard again as I make my way westward. (His last name is Westra, by the way, so maybe is my "allegorical" traveling companion in that direction...).
Long Lost
Taking "everything" with me would leave me open to contingencies such as running into someone who is on his way to the Florida Keys and getting a ride; or of making enough money to be able to make a trip to Atlanta to try to find my long-lost Karrie.
Howards Feelings
I think maybe the best coarse of action would be to give Howard my e-mail address (I have his) and keep him abreast of developments that way. He could always write and say "I'll hop a Greyhound and meet you in San Francisco" if that is truly his desired destination.
I just think that things will "click" a lot faster if I am free to follow my bliss and use my intuition. Alex In California was probably right when he said something like "One guy with a guitar travels better than one guy with a guitar and a Howard."
I just don't want to hurt the guy's feelings ad I think the e-mail idea is a good one and will assuage my guilt. I just can't get a good "read" on the guy; is he just looking for some place to go and die? Does he want to see his daughter in San Diego? Is he secretly praying that I fall off the train and get killed so he can get on with his life??
Looking At This Just Makes Me Nervous...
Iron Filings To A Magnet
I kind of want to be very far from New Orleans come January, so that the Mardi Gras, combined with the Superbowl won't pull me back there like iron filings to a magnet.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Good Morning Starshine I didn't quite get out there at 7 a.m. to do this song, but I will tomorrow, because it is a money maker.
Then, I will hop the train to Jacksonville and leave Howard here to his own devices...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Better Busking Night

61 Cents Well Spent
Acoustically Superior!
Did someone once say that luck is when preparation meets opportunity or something like that?
Yesterday, I was up at about noon. The 61 cent sleeping bag, which I had gotten at the Wings of Life Thrift Store had worked like a charm; with the only drawback that it slides rather easily over cardboard and I kept waking up and finding myself halfway out from under the holly bush and exposed to the bright lights from the State Dock, having only been stopped from sliding further by coming off the edge of the cardboard and encountering friction from the dirt surface. The sleeping bag is a vivid red and blue and I'm sure that it is visible from space when under those lights -one of the hazards of sleeping on an incline of a couple of degrees.
This also moves me a few feet closer to the railroad tracks. I have been startled a few times when I woke up and opened my eyes and the first thing I've seen is a locomotive barreling down upon me at 60 miles per hour and passing within 15 feet of me. Make that 12 feet and the effect is exponentially increase. It's something that catches me by surprise every so often; no matter how accustomed I have become to 500,000 tons of steel whizzing past me at all hours of the night.
*Plus, when I slide out from under the holly bush, I no longer have it for protection, should the train derail and land on top of me.
I decided to go for my morning energy drink and bought an additional one for the next morning to save myself that walk which has become a daily one. If the world ends and I still have an unconsumed energy drink; I'll just eat the loss -just the cost of doing business.
Getting back to Cathedral Park, I decided to warm up before recording anything, and as I was doing so I attracted the attention of a girl of about 18 years old, who  told me that I sounded good (I was playing "Mary Jane's Last Dance," by Tom Petty) and she sat next to me and wanted to play my guitar at one point.
I let her play E minor 7th to A minor 9th over and over for about 5 minutes when she stopped, citing a tired hand as the reason. Her name is Gabrielle, and she didn't know how to spell it -had either forgotten or had never learned. This IS Alabama, remember.
Well, I never recorded the warm-up because the park maintenance people came and began edging and weed eating and one of their tools was humming a B-flat just below middle C and it was wreaking havoc on my attempts to tune up in order to record something; plus, I didn't want the weed whacker on the recording as,  the water fountains are a distraction enough. At least they can be foisted off as some sort of nature sound to make Sea Breeze sound more soothing, the power tools; not so much...
Well, Gabrielle said that she was going to find me at night and would rap and beat box along with my music. ...look forward to seeing you, sweatie...
Well, she never materialized but, I started early (5 p.m.) at a spot not too far from the acoustically superior New York Hi Style spot (I couldn't play there because they were still open) and made a couple bucks in about a half hour, which I was grateful for.
Attitude Adjustment
I walked the mile to the Exxon on Water Street to capitalize on their 99 cent deal on 24 oz. cans of Steel Reserve -It's a Steel Reserve blow-out!
I then met a train hopping guy behind a building where I went to consume it. He was watching the trains and making assessments about them, based upon the number of locomotives, the direction of travel, the kind of locomotive and the type of payload. He seemed pretty knowledgeable but the only advice he could give me about going to Jacksonville was to ask the engineer (Pensacola or Montgomery?). Well, I could have figured that out without having had to sit through a half hour of his train hopping stories; though the one about The Yukon was kind of interesting....
I ran into a black man with a very round head, who has been in Mobile at least 3 years, who told me that I should be playing, because "Roll Tide won today!" (he thinks that is the name of the team; I wonder if he is an alumnus)
I then went and parked myself at the Hi Style spot, determined to play to the smaller but wealthier people who pass by there going to and from the $275 per night Hotel and the $80 per plate restaurants, rather than the masses of Joe Bloes (and Jane Bloes) gathered around 3 dollar draft beers and yelling "Roll Tide!" in between swallows.
The well heeled people keep pretty much to the fashion of eating dinner at 7:30 p.m. I guess that is when you eat dinner when you are so rich that you can eat dinner any time you want to eat dinner.
*When I walk up to the front of that particular hotel to look for cigarette butts I always hold up a hand to the valets and say "...not checking in, just looking for ducks..." which always gets a smile.*
I was playing well, but more importantly, I had regained my desire to play and had lost the last remnants of the hatred that has seemed to have crept into my heart, beginning around the time of my release from the Baton Rouge Parish Prison, the subsequent disappearance of a lot of stuff which is going to be a hassle to replace (I wanted to brush my hair this morning; I used to have about 5 brushes -a couple were from Jennie, wife of Jeff The Potter of Mobile; and at least one from Martin In West Virginia -but the cops somehow lost all of them, along with related items).
Glibby Glop Glooby
Did Officer Chutz of East Baton Rouge really intend to make it harder for me to stay groomed, and thus harder for me to get a job or even be allowed in public places, by taking my hairbrush; in an attempt to "keep me down?" Would he be happy to arrest me for trespassing on the property of anyone who didn't like my un-brushed hair and didn't want me around because af it?? These are questions that keep me awake at night, though I can sleep through the sound of freight trains.
I splurged on a 2 dollar beer and a pack of cigarettes last night, and my mission today is to get a pair of socks; so I will have 2 pair; and to try to get some kind of epoxy to put inside the Jasmine guitar where it is damaged and taped up with electrical tape but where it still makes an annoying buzz, especially when I hit certain chords, such as F major.
New strings are going to be a requirement for playing at the Florida/Georgia game. I might have to busk a little bit tonight and maybe at 7 a.m. tomorrow (Monday) morning to cash in on people who appreciate a work ethic and who recognize "Good Morning Starshine" from the musical "

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Miserable Busking Night

Last night was a miserable night for busking. I thought I would not be drinking because of lack of money. But then some guy asked me to play a song for he and his girlfriend when I was on my way to the store. He bought me two beers, which I consumed by the railroad tracks while I talked to Howard.
I found out that Howard actually has a plan, and that plan is to make it to California. I guess he figures that I will eventually get there and is tagging along in that hope.
I then sat down at the New York Hi Style spot with just the right buzz for playing; and played for a while and a lady came along and sat by me and wanted to sing.
She wanted to sing a specific list of songs, of which I knew "Wish You Were Here", by Pink Floyd and "The Unforgiven," by Metallica, to name a couple.
She passed me a bottle of wine. in the process.
We actually made 4 dollars with her singing and myself playing. She only asked for one of them, as I was packing up, ready to move to another spot and hoping to shake her in the most polite manner.
Then, I went to the Dauphine Market and was asked by a group of Germans (and one Russian) if I would take a group picture of them. I did, and they gave me a beer.
Then I went to my favorite spot near Cathedral Park and was happy to hear that the brass band which had been playing at Spot of Tea had stopped.
But, there were hardly any people out by then, and I was a bit drunk and had a bad attitude, so I just went to my sleeping spot and ate my sesame mackerel and green pea salad, which wasn't enough to elevate my mood.
I guess I learned that I can't protect myself against getting drunk by keeping myself broke; the devil will just send people to give me free drinks (awesome) I might as well try to make as much money as I can, and practice saying "no" to Satans minions.

Friday, October 19, 2012

It Was 52 Last Night

Sea Breeze Has 'em Dancing In The Park
Last night, it was chilly.
My fleece blanket was no match for the frigid 52 degree air. But, neither were the mosquitoes and ants.
I wrapped my towel around me, and slid my lower legs into a few shirts and was able to finish sleeping, though pretty fitfully. I had a dream about running from room to room through what I believed to be a college campus, until I looked out the window of one room on an upper level and saw The Miami Ocean, a body of water that only exists in dreams.
I woke up with a resolve to get a blanket today, and was not above going to the Wings of Life Rescue Mission and begging them for any that they might have laying around their Thrift Store.
I couldn't bring myself to busk Thursday night because I knew that I would be doing it for drinking money, as I didn't yet know that a blanket would soon become top priority.
Someone even asked me how I was doing and I said that I was intentionally NOT playing because I wanted to stay sober. I played them a couple songs and they got me an iced tea out of Heroes Bar...
I really wanted to be sober, so I could sit and meditate upon things, which I did. The "danger" of being homeless and sober is in looking around at your piece of cardboard and the ants in your peanut butter and hearing Howard snoring from 40 feet away and realizing that that is your life; a pretty grave danger... "
I made instant coffee with cold water and honey in the morning and drank it after I had slept an extra 3 hours, and missed an opportunity to play by the Big Clock in front of the bank on Royal Street starting at about 7 a.m. That has never failed to net some money as, people who have dragged themselves out of bed and are skulking their way to their jobs seem to appreciate someone else who has done the same; and at no other time is a busker seen as being different from a beggar than then.
I instead went to Bienville Park, to record My Friday Morning Sea Breeze Warm Up, heard here.
I think that if I prop up the laptop so that the microphone is closer to my mouth and further away from the guitar, I will achieve a better balance between the levels of the two; and that should be the next little improvement made in the next morning warm ups.
My choice of songs to warm up with come at random, but, the third song, which is my send-up of "You Are So Beautiful," by Joe Cocker has a bit of trivia attached: While performing it in New Orleans, with Sue sitting by my side; I soon realized that she was no longer by my side, but walking away angrily -an example of a person thinking that a song was being directed at them when it was really just a song that I felt like doing at the time; one of my "comedy" songs...
Wings Of Life Has Me Covered
I made it to Wings of Life Rescue Mission where I walked into the Thrift Store and soon saw a sleeping bag hanging along a wall.
Asking the lady how much they would probably want for it, yielded the answer "2 dollars" from her.
"Oh, cool," I said and added that I should be able to make at least that this evening.
"Well, how much do you have?' she asked.
"61 cents, and a Mardi Gras (worthless) coin," I said.
They sold me the sleeping bag for 61 cents, and prayed that I would play great music tonight and would get a lot of tips.
Now I am finding that, when it is rolled up and inside my backpack, the bag props this laptop higher up, closer to my mouth and further away from the guitar, getting me ready for tomorrows Sea Breeze warm up recording.
Flying Solo
I see Howard for about 1 minute per day. He slogs by at around 7 a.m. and drops the sports section at my feet and then goes off to his rendezvous with a Sausage Mc Muffin. I usually don't see him again all day.
So, I am starting to think independently as is probably he, and I really don't think he will miss me if I go off alone in search of Jacksonville and the Florida/Georgia fiasco. 
There is a chance that the train will go to Chattanooga, Tennessee instead of Jacksonville, maybe about 1 in 4.
If that were to happen, I think I could take it in stride better if I didn't have to have the following conversation:
Howard: "Are we in Jacksonville?"
Me: "No, (pointing at a big water tower in front of us with 'Chattanooga, TN' written on it) we seem to be in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Howard."
Howard: "Oh, wow!"
Me: "There's a Jack-In-The-Box down that way."
Howard: "OK."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Scary Moment

This is my most popular post of all time; having been read 6,140 times; ahead of the second place post (below) at 810. Why? I don't know

I had a scary moment this morning; due to some kind of computer glitch.
Blogger kept telling me that the password that I had entered and that I have been entering daily for the past eon, was "incorrect."
I thought all was lost. I started to contemplate a life without my blog readers in it. There would be no way for me to contact them to redirect them to a new blog...
Technical Gibberish
One unusual thing had preceded this: One of the other homeless people unplugged me; while she was trying to charge her phone. This actually logged me out of Ubuntu (because my battery was critically low) but did not completely shut the system down.

The problem may have been that, since I have more than one "user" on my system (even though they are all "me") Google may have been sent to the wrong cookie and read the password that I had a long time ago when I was a different user, before I changed the password as this here user.  
The long and short of it was I was FREAKING OUT for a while.
Back To Normal
Since things seem to be back to normal, below is this mornings rendition of Sea Breeze, along with some warm-up stuff.
I am trying to get to the point to where I can take the guitar out of its case, first thing in the morning and play Sea Breeze flawlessly.
Back when I was a kid, studying the same types of songs from method books, I was in such a hurry to get to the next song and the next book and complete the series, thinking that it would make me an advanced player.
I tended to get a song to where I could "play" it, but not perfectly. In my impatience I would tell myself "That's good enough; next song!" even though, in my heart of hearts there was this little voice telling me "there's that little part that you usually screw up, you're not playing along with a metronome and if you were, you would realize that you are dropping behind here and there and every note is not sounding exactly even in volume and some are slightly cut off and some of the changes from one chord to the next aren't 'seamless'...would you really go into a studio and record it that way and release it on an album???"
Then I would tell myself "But if I stay on the first song in the method book, 'Sea Breeze' until it's perfect; I might spend the next year just playing 'Sea Breeze' over and over and not advancing through the coarse -a perpetual beginner."

To which even the instructors would say, "Yes, you need to take on new material and then go back to the old stuff; for it is in reviewing it and applying new techniques learned in subsequent lessons that you will master it.
So, I am going back in virtual time and becoming that 14 year old again, and I will play Sea Breeze each morning as a warm up. I will not cheat and do it 10 times in a row and then post the most error free rendition; it will always be me just strapping the instrument on; tuning up and then hitting it, two, three, four -PLAY!
This will make me a better musician. I WILL practice the song at other times, paying attention to the troublesome measures and, of course, picking up speed until the little "children" song almost sounds concert-worthy.
This, I know will come about because I have taken my best Sea Breezes and used the "change tempo" feature in Audacity to double its speed; and it sounds like something played by Segovia.
So, without further ado...Here Is This Mornings Warmup which starts with Sea Breeze and then has a little bit of improving about the cop that ran me away from the electrical outlet the evening before, and then a bit of The Bum Song, which is one of my originals and I would have finished it; but some bums were within earshot and have been known to take offense to some of the lyrics.
A Time To Busk
For everything there is a time and a season, and I am down to under 1 dollar in my pocket, and so I will be busking somewhere soon on this Thursday; a day which can be productive if there is something going on such as a concert at the Saenger Theater, or a movie at the Crescent Theater.
One of my readers, Lauren has hinted that she will be in town on Saturday and wants to hear The Carcass Song, and she drives a Lexus, if you catch my drift...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


My Morning Warmup
Boredom Is The Enemy
Bens Morning Warmup
The enemy is boredom; as, this town is not quite as exciting as New Orleans.
I just saw two "traveling kids" laden with backpacks almost as big as they. They approached the porto-let as if wanting to use it.
I was going to cry out "It's locked!" before they got there, but they soon enough saw the padlock on it. It sits right across from an alley where one can be quickly arrested for urinating in public, by the way.
I could have also given the traveling kids, a tall skinny guy and a female; walking -you guessed it- a dog ("a dog is your money-maker; people feel sorry for the dog and give you money") some advice: The reason that traveling kids ride right on through Mobile and that they are the only two that I have seen in as many weeks, is that there is no panhandling allowed here; they will put you in jail.
Lily, the banjo player could qualify as the third that I have seen, but she doesn't have to panhandle; just stand up with her banjo and strum a few chords with her thumb and sing about Mississippi. She IS a traveling kid, though.
"...But, that's what we do; go all around the country on a permanent sight-seeing vacation, living off of the generosity of everybody..."
They probably know the ropes already, though, and will be sitting on the sidewalk with some form of artistic activity manifest, maybe making necklaces out of elbow noodles and tapping a tambourine to draw attention to their craft. They may be already setting up now, as I type.
Heaven On Earth
I told Howard about my plans to play the area around the Florida/Georgia game on the weekend of October 27th. He didn't really respond, but I am kind of hoping he doesn't ask me when I am planning to leave and then plan to leave with me.
He has found the "Wings of Life" mission with its showers open all day and its meal which is served every weekday which dwarfs anything offered in New Orleans or Baton Rouge by the same type of agencies.
I am kind of thinking that Mobile is perfect for Howard (he has heaped encomiums upon the library, where the morning papers arrive regularly and on time; the McDonalds is literally across the street from it; and there is no shortage of Cheetoz and Pepsi -heaven on earth for him...
Modern Fundamentals Of Guitar Playing
I have been filling the hours between weekend busking, with a lot of study of other musicians on Youtube, especially the video lessons offered by players such as Steve Morse, Brian May, Zack Wylde, Al Di Meola and am really focusing upon their postures and the way they hold the pick and stuff like that.
I had become so entrenched in the only style that I cared to play that I was kind of blind to the fact that different styles are facilitated by holding the pick different ways and/or resting the palm of the picking hand on the bridge of the guitar or not.
I am trying to tear down my playing style and rebuild it (beginning at the beginning), and will be using "Seabreeze" from the Mastering the Guitar book as my morning warm-up exercise until I can grab the guitar first thing in the morning and play it without screwing it up like in today's recording, and without going back and fixing it; you only get one chance in life to play "Sea breeze."
"It's not what you can do or have the potential to do, but what you do, that matters." -Joe Paterno
I have been holding my pick with my middle finger and thumb ever since reading an interview of Eddie Van Halen when I was about 17 years old. He does it so that his index finger is available to do all his fret tapping stuff, without him having to hold the thing in his mouth, like some tappers.
However, seeing Steve Morse and Eric Johnson holding the pick between their index fingers and thumb pretty much proves to me that it is at least not a hindrance, and may just be vital in keeping the hand at a certain angle or balancing it a certain way.
I remember when I was learning to golf at the age of 14.
I had a book written by (the Great) Ben Hogan called "5 Modern Fundamentals of Golf," and in it Ben basically taught how to grip the club and swing it exactly as he did, right down to the minutest detail (the "V" between your left thumb and index finger should be pointed at your right shoulder. Your left pinkie should point at your right nipple after taking the club back....etc.).
I read that book and practiced it and was, honest to God 1 under par after 15 holes on my next round, before it started to rain cats and dogs and I came in at 8 over after hitting one into the pond on the 17th hole when I slipped in the mud and threw my nipples out of line. 
I basically figured after that that I had done well enough at golf and kind of quit playing after that...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Conquering The Addiction

I am sitting in Cathedral Park. I am bored out of my skull. I would be bored out of a much bigger skull, I am sure.
Is the non-stop excitement of New Orleans really that addictive?
The weekend of busking was kind of a farce.
On Friday, there was the Artwalk, which started early.
I found a spot to play, but was run off by The Man With The Hat. By the time I recovered myself and moved to the acoustically superior spot, I was in ill spirits and was singing really weird stuff. I got a few tips, along with "what the hell kind of music is that?" looks on the peoples faces.
I moved later on, but was hungry and had been drinking on that empty stomach and decided to go to the railroad tracks and eat. And eat I did; and then fell asleep.
I woke up to the early morning sounds of people taking some kind of walk in order to stop diabetes. I don't know if they succeeded in putting a halt to that affliction, but they stopped me from sleeping any more.
Saturday night, I had my first confrontation with The Law in a long time. (Just 4 days after the Leautenant who always had my back died...hmm)
I was playing at my usual spot, but had been joined by a lady who was probably a panhandler, because a cop stopped and walked over and told me (us) to "pack it up" and then added "Not on Dauphine Street!" and then mumbled something about being arrested for panhandling. Tip #20: Be very suspicious of anyone who asks if they can just sit by you (and your tip jar) and listen to your music. I have found that 85% of the time they assume the attitude that people are throwing money in your case for the both of you, because they are digging your music and your buddy sitting next to you, because it's all part of the same scene...
I consulted with another cop, a veteran, who recited the law as he understood it; in essence: don't play in front of an open business, and, if no one is complaining, then, you are alright.
I went back out to play, but not at the exact same spot, not wanting the cop to take it personally if he should pass by again, and I didn't make as much as I always have at my regular spot. Less than 20 bucks, it was.
Meanwhile, Lily, the banjo playing girl with the low cut shirts was up the street strumming away. It looked like she had more than 20 bucks in her case when I walked past her on one of my breaks.
She said that she hadn't been harassed at all by any cops, and said it with an attitude which led me to read between the lines "because no male cop EVER harasses me!"
I told her that I moved to another spot because of him and I wasn't making crap.
She shrugged her shoulders, as if to imply: Well, get yourself some bosoms, I don't know what else to tell you...
And so, that was the pathetic weekend.
The 100 Pound Marling That Got Away
Then, on Sunday, I was standing in front of The Soul Kitchen, talking to a girl who was waiting for the arrival of Laura Marling. She was going to be the first one in the door and would have a front row seat.
I had seen the poster announcing the arrival of Laura Marling, and it made me curious enough to go on Youtube and listen and watch Laura.
She reminded me of 85% of all female singer/songwriters that I have heard at open mic nights; whose songs all resonate the theme: "How can I tell if he really loves me or is just using me?" -sung in a voice that was like putting Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Jewel, Fiona Apple, Dido, Nancy Griffin and Enya in a blender and running it at high speed for 3 minutes and then pouring the resultant mixture down her throat.
Almost every song mentioned some un-named "he" some of them in the title (does he love me; what is he thinking; the sky was never blue until I met him) some songs referred to him as "that man."
I call that "Cosmopolitan" songwriting, because it calls to mind all of the front cover eye-catchers of that magazine started by Ms. Girley Brown, you know, such as "How To Tell If He Really Loves You...or is just using you," "27 Ways To Touch Him So He Will Never Forget You (and won't want to use anyone else") and etc.
These are the types of artists who only use music to enhance their appeal to try to attract "him" -much like the Miss Universe contest with its "talent portion" which goes along with the swimsuit and evening wear portions and serves to separate the contestants and allow some to distinguish themselves (...gee, they all looked pretty hot in their swimsuits, but when I heard Miss Ukraine play Vivaldi on the upright bass, well, I became convinced that she was the full package!)
Musically, well, Miss Marling mostly strummed the guitar with her thumb; enough said. But had a full complement of strings and horns and castanet players, upright bassists etc.
This was the impression of her that I carried when she walked up Dauphine Street, carrying one guitar case in each hand, and looking very much like the poster of her in the window, minus the cigarette. Yes, the poster said "18 and under admitted with a parent," probably so the parent could be there to advise the child that she didn't need to take up smoking in order to be just like Laura; (just to revolve herself around "him" and to set womanhood back about 40 years).
But, up she walked, preceded by about 5 seconds by her perfume.
She immediately went and tapped on the front door; as if trying to say "Let me in right now so I can run and hide in my dressing room; there are weirdos out here!"
I didn't know at the time that she has won the "best new female artist" award in Great Britain and was probably more accustomed to walking through tunnels which lead from the hotel basement, right to the dressing room and wasn't used to having to walk right past the poster which was a dead ringer for her and expose herself to the John Hinkleys of the world.
I told her that I had just heard her for the first time the day before on Youtube.
She turned around to face me (although she had already been watching my reflection in the glass door for sudden movements, I'm sure). 
She fixed me with a wide-eyed gaze, looking unflinchingly into my eyes and, to her credit, not seeming to even register anything about me other than what I was saying to her.
So, What Did You Think...Honestly?
This is unusual, as, most peoples eyes dart about, making assessments and pronouncing judgments based upon all kinds of externals, giving a person the "once-over" in order to categorized them and fit them into their model of the world.
But, Laura seemed really interested in hearing what my impression was of hearing her for the first time the day before; almost as if slightly insecure. It may be the "British" way of interacting.
I just couldn't bring myself to be totally candid and tell her in a polite way the impressions that I have outlined above.
I told her that I couldn't really discern her lyrics, through my ear bud headphone and "I'm sure that your lyrics are your bread and butter," or something to that effect...because strumming with your thumb makes you just another pretty face, dear...-hard to articulate Vivaldi that way...
But, she was made up to the tee, as if for a photo shoot and very pretty; and, sour grapes aside; I couldn't help wistfully wonder if I could ever be "him."
I Just Want Him To Be Candid And Honest; I Don't Care If He's Just A Street Musician...

Then, I found out this morning that she is a big fan of Neil Young (It was on the tip of my tongue to mention my encounter with him behind the Saenger Theater at one point) and that she had once performed on the street after being barred from a gig for being unde-raged; and that she has been compared to a young Bob Dylan So, maybe my reticence blew it for me and I've lost my singing partner for life, all because I was too star-struck to point out that the Emperor plays with his thumb.